The Omega Speedy Tuesday 2 “ULTRAMAN” first began delivery in August this year and is said to have fulfilled its final batch this month. Perhaps one of the most talked about watches this season, we thought that it was timely to post a quick recap of what this watch entails, the controversy it has met and what it means to collect one of them.
The Omega #SpeedyTuesday ULTRAMAN
This special “Speedy Tuesday” model celebrates the famous OMEGA Speedmaster that appeared in the Japanese science fiction TV show “RETURN OF ULTRAMAN” in 1971.
Much of its origins are shrouded in mystery. But the general consensus pronounces that the original orange hand Speedmaster were produced from a batch of 1968 Omega Speedmasters. Of the approximately 3000 pieces produced that year, only around 50 of the Orange hand variant have been surfaced and confirmed to exist.
Following the first Speedy Tuesday Alaska Project tribute, Omega in a partnership with Fratello Watches released the new Speedy Tuesday 2 “ULTRAMAN” this year. While some folks are starting to feel the immense weight of a Speedy fatigue, especially with the colorful batch of Tokyo 2020 Speedmasters, the warm reception of the “ULTRAMAN” suggests there is still a strong market demand for (sensible) limited edition Speedmasters.
So what makes the ‘ULTRAMAN’ a sensible limited edition and not just another Panerai Bronzo?
The most common arguments would be its marriage of vintage features with modern twists. The ‘ULTRAMAN’ is decorated with an array of details only found in vintage Omega Speedmasters. Each of this features make for highly collectible vintage models in their own right.
1. The dot over 90 or ‘DON’ bezel
2. The vintage applied logo, also used on the crown
3. The step dial
4. The rare orange hand
While cynics may argue that this is just another marketing stunt or a reedition, fans of the Speedmaster will say that the watch is not another lazy homage. After all, the beauty of this hobby is in the details.
But what is truly magnificent about this timepiece, is the ‘zeitgeist’ it embodies. It marks 2 distinct periods of modern history and will be a great story to hold in one’s hands in decades to come. Even more so if one grew up watching the TV show.
‘Ultraman’ was created during a turning point in film making. The movement was known as Tokusatsu, a Japanese term which refers to the extensive use of special effects in film and television. As for the ‘#SpeedyTuesday’ movement, it marks the proliferation of social media, a watershed event in the way people communicated. While this might seem trivial today, a few decades later and we will see how the Instagram of today resembles the vinyl players of yesteryears; and the watch will stand as Omega’s role in capturing the symbols of human history and progress.
A watch for the romantics
If anyone were to run through the specifications of the watch, at its pricepoint, even at retail, it should be blown right out of the water. Comparing to a regular Speedmaster Professional, the ‘ULTRAMAN’ is 1.5x the price of a Professional. The regular Speedmaster Professional comes with 2 spare straps, a loupe, and is fit with a bracelet. Not to mention, the Professional can also be found on the grey or resale market at an even bigger discount, which pulls the price gap between the two. For the value buyers, who prefer to pay for specifications, parts and performance, it makes no sense at all to pay almost twice the amount for something identical (and worse still, without a bracelet).
Understandably, the Speedmaster Professional line with the vintage inspired 1861 caliber is not designed for the type of buyers who desire high performance and specifications. Other options like the co-axial range offer significantly better movements and with the convenience of self-winding. But a quick rant for the uninitiated to Speedmaster collecting, will invariably revolve around having a plastic scratch-prone crystal, a not-very-accurate low power reserve manual winding movement, and a premium price tag. Omega’s been to the moon and back, but the El Primero with the high beat vertically integrated column wheel automatic chronograph, silicon hair spring, is way ahead of the 1861…
So yes, collecting Omega Speedmasters requires a suspension of certain degrees of logic, it is a sport for the romantic. And not everyone gets it.
I represent a viewpoint as an early Speedmaster collector. Having the watch on my wrist consecutively for about a week now, I at times do have less romantic thoughts about the ‘ULTRAMAN’. The SpeedyTuesday ULTRAMAN is my third Speedmaster. The reason why I mention this is because, I frequently compare the ULTRAMAN to my earlier Professional and First Omega in Space. Both of which are specs-wise superior and of significantly better value, in terms of price to material.
I love that the watch embodies a certain Zeitgeist and a story that I can share with my future generation, but oddly, the SpeedyTuesday is one watch that has given me an unusually high level of cognitive dissonance. Perhaps there is also a reminder of how it is a representative of the less glamorous side of the ‘flipper’ industry, or perhaps there is a lingering concern that the brand may kill the plot with one too many limited editions.